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Planes and Perseverance


So, I have a bit of a motivational post for ya’ll today.  Any one of you who are currently trying to get out of debt, or have completed your debt payoff plan (yea!) probably know well the emotional and financial battles that come with a journey to debt free.  Two steps forward and one (and sometimes more) step back can make the journey frustrating and lead to thoughts of giving up altogether.  Sometimes, honestly, it feels like it would be easier to just stay in debt.  Some days you get so sick and tired of cutting costs and refiguring the budget and struggling to pay bills that ya just want to give up.  I know I do.  And it doesn’t help when most of the rest of the world thinks you’re going to fail too. 

Enter, Monday.  As part of our Summer Staycation, I took the kids to see the movie “Planes”.  I’m a big fan of the movie’s producer/writer, John Lasseter.  He’s a pro at writing a good David and Goliath type of a tale.  Lasseter is probably well-known by most parents of younger children, as he’s the brainchild behind the Cars movies, Monster’s Inc. and a host of other favored kids’ movies.  We’ve enjoyed most everything he’s produced, and “Planes” is no exception.

Although “Planes” is technically the  “Cars 3” movie, he took a bit of a different twist here.  In Cars, the already famous Lightning McQueen gets taken down a few notches, and he needs it.

“Planes” starts out with the story of Dusty Crophopper, a crop-dusting plane who dreams of winning a big race someday.  Only problem is that crop dusting planes are meant to fly “low and slow”, and those are definitely not the qualities of a winning racer.

You can probably guess the rest: Through a series of trials and tribulations, Dusty does go on to win the Wings Across the World Race and shocks everyone.

But what really stood out to me about the story is an underlying theme that resonates strongly with me these days: Dusty’s chances, from the beginning and even throughout the race, don’t look good.  There’s no logical reason whatsoever that Dusty should win, or even finish, this race.  And people all over the place (with the exception of a few staunch supporters) are eager to tell him that.

Dusty’s story SO reminds me of our life today.  Looking at our debt situation, it doesn’t seem that there’s any logical way we can win.  The numbers point to “lose”.  The length of time we’ll be on this journey, given today’s income, point to “lose”.  Simple human nature points to “lose”.  After all, how many people make the climb up Mount Everest and actually finish it?

So what keeps us going?  Honestly, I’m not sure.  But I do know that several other people who had big dreams were also told they’d never make it:


-Thomas Edison’s teachers told him he was “too stupid to learn anything.” Edison also famously invented 1,000 light bulbs before creating one that worked.

-Harland David Sanders, the famous KFC “Colonel,” couldn’t sell his chicken. More than 1,000 restaurants rejected him.  But then one said “yes”, and today there are KFC restaurants bearing his image all over the world.

-Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

-Albert Einstein didn’t speak until age four and didn’t read until age seven. His teachers labeled him “slow” and “mentally handicapped.”

-Oprah Winfrey was fired from her television reporting job because they told her she wasn’t fit to be on screen.

Read more about these and others here. 

Can you imagine??  Looking at the reputations of the above people now, one would never guess that they’d been told they’d never succeed.  I mean, seriously: Oprah isn’t fit to be on TV?  Walt Disney lacks imagination and has no good ideas?  To us today, those statements seem ludicrous.  But they were very real thoughts to people who couldn’t see what Oprah, Walt Disney and so many others had in their hearts.

I guess my message today is this: If you’re on a road, or contemplating a journey, to debt freedom, please don’t give up.  Please don’t listen to the naysayers, especially the ones in your own mind.  Work to change what you need to change about yourself and your life to make your dream of being debt free a reality.  Instead of being like everyone else and following the norm, reach for the stars, because you do indeed deserve to be free of the bondage of debt.


  1. Great post Laurie! Why does it seem that the loudest naysayer is our own mind? I find that to be the case quite often. As an aside, my Mom and step-dad are taking the kids to see Planes tomorrow – they can’t wait!

    • Matt Becker says:

      I’m with you John! It often feels like I’m my own biggest critic, inventing reasons for why something won’t work when it’s so much more productive to come up with ways make it happen. And I couldn’t agree more with the spirit behind this post Laurie. Find out what you want and throw yourself into it. If it’s truly important to you, you can find a way to make it work.

  2. E.M. says:

    Great message here Laurie. It’s always worth rooting for the underdog. We need to make sure we also don’t become self-fulfilling prophecies, which can be difficult when you don’t believe in yourself and others are getting you down. This is why I like the support of the PF community – everyone is rooting for each other and being positive.

  3. Joshua @ CNA says:

    Hey Laurie, it’s been a while since I stopped by so, I figured I’d come by and see what’s new. Glad I did too. I’m definitely my biggest critic. I’ve learned however that I need to stop beating myself up and look out for the punches others will throw my way. Thanks for a great, inspirational morning read!

    • Laurie says:

      Hey Joshua, thanks for stopping by again! SO true about playing defense – it’s an important part of any self-improvement plan. 🙂

      • If we are constantly beating ourselves up, we just don’t seem to get anywhere. By the way, I’ve been missing you in the comments over at CNA, you mind stopping by to say hi. I just made some major changes and, I’d love your thoughts!

  4. Powerful message here Laurie.Yes, the journey maybe long, tedious and winding but we should keep our eyes focused on the prize, the end goal, that light at the end of the tunnel and NEVER EVER GIVE UP till we reach it.
    Inspiring post!

  5. What a fabulous message, Laurie. Those voices shouting you can’t do this (which sometimes includes our own voice) are often the loudest. It’s a good thing Oprah, Walt Disney, etc didn’t listen and you shouldn’t either. It will take time but every month, you and your family have inched closer to debt freedom. Before you know it, you won’t be moving inches but miles.

    • Laurie says:

      Thank you so much, Shannon, for your powerful words of encouragement. You really have a gift for speaking positively, and your message is right on the mark. 🙂

  6. Mackenzie says:

    Awesome message here, Laurie! What great words of inspiration 🙂 The road to being debt-free is indeed a hard one, but at least we are all in it together!

  7. “Through a series of trials and tribulations, Dusty does go on to win the Wings Across the World Race and shocks everyone.”

    Whoa, how about a spoiler alert? 😉

    I really enjoyed your post today — we can never get enough inspiration. And, like you, I have faith that you guys are going to win. Go get ’em!

  8. AverageJoe says:

    Great stuff. I always remind myself when I’m going to take a risk of another Disney story….Walt and his chief engineer were driving around Disneyland days before open and it looked like things where nowhere near ready. Plus, nobody had ever done anything like Disney before. The chief engineer had been promised payment from the profits and now was freaking out.

    Walt said, “What’s the worst that can happen?”
    The engineer said, “We could go bankrupt!”
    Walt said, “Oh, I’ve done that before, it’s no big deal.”

    I have no idea why that helps me cope with uncertainty…but it does!

    • Laurie says:

      Wow, Joe, what an amazing story! That’s the type of attitude that separates the successful ones from the ones who don’t make it, I think. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

  9. I haven’t seen Planes yet, but I’m sure we will at some point. I also like the themes in some of the better kids movies. This post reminds me of Sarah Blakely, the lady who invented Spanx who was added to the billionaire list earlier this year. Reading about how she was turned down and basically did not refuse to take no for an answer is a great story. If you have time, you should read about her if you haven’t.

    Whether you agree with Spanx or not, I think she’s a great role model for women or anyone about what hard work can do.

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, you have to see Planes when you have little ones – it’s kind of a given. 🙂 Thanks for the Sarah Blakely story, I’ll definitely head over and read it. More encouragement is always good. 🙂

  10. This is a really inspiring post, Laurie. I was a big fan of Walt Disney growing up and read this one biography about him multiple times. I’m impressed at how some people just refuse to give up and accomplish big things because of it!

  11. Rita P says:

    Even impossible says I M Possible and we should always see the positives which can lead to success. Great post Laurie and thanks for sharing

  12. When Vonnie and I started our get our of debt journey the signs all pointed towards bankruptcy. The numbers were just too overwhelming. But more than that, the way we were living our lives and handling our finances didn’t give us any hope to believe that we would ever do any better. From the outside looking in, a person would have no choice but to say we were destined to live a vicious cycle of debt accumulation and bankruptcy, never realizing the potential of the life we could have.

    But what outsiders could not see from looking at simple numbers on a page was our determination. The human spirit is something that doesn’t show up in columns and rows of expenses and income. It is that determination and self-motivation to make something better for ourselves and our children that pushes us forward!

    • Laurie says:

      Love that line, Travis: “The human spirit is something that doesn’t show up in columns and rows of expenses and income.” I think that’s my new mantra – thanks for sharing. 🙂

  13. Thomas says:

    Those who think they can win and give the effort long enough find they are a lot closer to winning then losing. You have to believe in yourself. Heck if you don’t who will. Perseverance and learning from mistakes make a big difference in getting to where you want to be.

  14. Thanks so much for this inspirational post Laurie. 🙂 Sometimes if we are told often enough that the problem in front of us is too big, or that we’re not good enough, we start to believe it. Only we can change our future and to do so, we must believe in ourselves.

  15. Alexa says:

    I try to eliminate the unsupportive people from my life or at least be around them less and not let them in on my plans. There are many people who have been told they couldn’t only to do something great. I still believe that everybody has the potential to do anything they want if they give it their all. Never let the naysayers tell you otherwise!

    • Laurie says:

      We do that too, Alexa. It’s important to learn who our supportive people are and to stick to them like glue when working to achieve a goal.

  16. Great message Laurie! We’re our own worst critics sometimes and spend too much time focusing on the negatives. I know it’s shocking that even some of the brightest minds and performers were shut down too, but they became successful because they didn’t let those negatives stop them from pursuing their ambitions. Even when the Beatles first started, they approached Decca Records, hoping to score a record deal but were rejected because Decca thought “the Beatles had no future in show business” and that “guitar groups were on their way out”. Oops!

  17. I love this! Isn’t this just the message of life in general? It’s hard. It’s messy. It’s crazy. It’s rewarding. And it’s fun..or hopefully should be. But no matter what keep pushing on!

  18. Kelly @Stayingonbudget says:

    Thanks for this post, Laurie! Yes, it’s tough when you are in the middle or beginning of getting out of debt or any task that seems daunting! Thanks for the encouragement–have a great day!

  19. Powerful post, Laurie! And just what I needed to hear again. I once attended this workshop where we were asked to not say or think anything bad about ourselves or others for 7 days. Easy peasy. Wrong! OMG! I was shocked by the negative self-talk that was constantly running in my mind. I’ve learned when I find myself getting in the dumps to listen to how I’m mentally talking about myself first and often I’m not being super supportive! 🙂 It’s the first voice I need to change. I’ve always wondered about those who rejected now famous people, like JK Rowling. Do they cry themselves to sleep? LOL!

    • Laurie says:

      Glad the message was good for you, Tanya! Yeah, I would imagine on those days of failure there were a few tears shed, but they stuck with it and look at them now!

  20. August has been a rough month financially on my pocket with my birthday,jeremy’s birthday,my 2 sister’s birthday,Seattle, Portland,Weekend Camping,and One year anniversary so let’s just say debt repayment was a wee bit challenging. This post really helped lift my spirits. Thank you Laurie!

  21. Love this post! proof that’s it’s never too late to follow your dreams! I have a few things I want to work on in the next year or so. It’s easy to convince myself that they can’t happen, but I’m going to challenge myself to make sure that I at least give them a go. Nothing to lose and only good things to gain.

    • Laurie says:

      Good for you, KK! I’m glad that, for me at least, the challenge part of it – the fact that the goal looks impossible, is part of what gives me the motivation to get it done. That really helps. 🙂

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  23. I think it is important to find inspiration in things around us, so good call in applying lessons of the movie to your life and taking meaning from it. You’ll just have to stay diligent with those numbers and I’m sure you’ll start to see some daylight.

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